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Jewish World Review
Sept. 24, 2013/ 20 Tishrei, 5774
Printing money can't buy us love...or real growth
Ben Bernanke's announcement that the Fed was continuing its practice of quantitative easing was at least initially met with raves on Wall Street. The Dow jumped and some folks who look myopically at the S&P Index were thrilled. Take my occasional radio guest AEI's Jim Pethokoukis, who hailed the Fed's decision as the only sane thing to do.
But the stock market's immediate approval hardly proves Bernanke's brilliance. In fact, it is probably just an admission of a sad reality: our Federal Reserve is out of ideas.
Morevoer, I find the Pethokoukis view very difficult to understand. Consider that just a few months ago, he was arguing that we have a potential labor shortage and that we need more low-wage immigrant workers.
Now he's writing that the U.S. economy no longer generates good jobs, and that structural unemployment is likely to continue.
I guess if you think the U.S. economy is no longer capable of generating good jobs, then it makes sense for the Fed to just keep printing money and at least cause the stock market to go up. But, if that's the case, then why would we need more immigrants?
My personal belief is that a lot of folks on the right put all their eggs in the globalization basket, and it turns out that globalization is just a huge disaster for the American middle class. But rather than admit that globalization was a mistake, and look for ways to restore U.S. manufacturing and other high-wage jobs, they have decided to support letting the Fed print lots of money. In other words, they would rather have the Fed intervene in the market, than have Congress interfere with globalization. Personally, I would trust Congress (which can be fired by the voters) more than the Fed (which cannot). That's the populist in me.
But whatever we think of these issues, we should all be clear on one thing: there are big changes coming for conservative economic thinking. The old belief that the U.S. would flourish in a globalized world is gone, and conservatives don't agree on what we should now believe instead.
The longer the economy keeps not working, the more likely it is that we are headed for a big shift away from our current policies. In the 1930s, we had a big shift to the left, and that lasted for 50 years. In the 1980s, we had a big shift to the right, and that lasted until at least 2008. The next big shift, if the voters think it works, will probably dominate American politics for the rest of our lives. So conservatives should spend less time worrying about making arguments, and more time trying to figure out what actually happened to the economy. Until they know that and can explain it, clearly and persuasively to Americans they will continue to have major political problems.
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